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Sessional work a positive choice, survey shows

The majority of sessional GPs choose their job for its flexibility and work-life balance – not because of a lack of partnerships.

These were the key findings for sessional GPs from the BMA survey of the profession, which had 15,560 respondents.

Close up of a GP holding a handful of prescriptions

More than seven in ten locum GPs gave flexibility and the desire for a good work-life balance as the reasons for opting for their role. The figure was 58 per cent for salaried GPs.

Only 7 per cent of salaried and 3 per cent of locum GPs are working as sessionals because there are no partnerships available in their area, the survey found.

Positive features

BMA GPC sessional GPs subcommittee chair Vicky Weeks said: ‘These figures show that working as a sessional GP is a positive career choice for a high proportion of this group of doctors ... the majority of sessional GPs do not want a partnership and are attracted to the role because of specific positive features of working as a sessional GP.' Vicky Weeks

The survey found 44% of practice employed salaried GPs want a partnership in the future, while 23% cent of locum GPs have this aspiration.

A desire to develop new specialist skills in the next five years was shown by:

  • 22% of practice-employed salaried GPs
  • 16% of locums
  • 6% of contractor GPs

Dr Weeks said: ‘This confirms the view that due to the nature of their work, many sessional GPs are keen to take on and develop additional skills and advance their portfolio career.’

Model contract

Other findings relate to the model contract available from the the BMA. All salaried GPs are recommended to use this contract, or one offering similar terms and conditions.

They include:

  • 57% of salaried GPs have been on the model contract in every practice they have worked in
  • 4% have been on the contract, but not in every practice where they have worked 
  • 26% are not on the model contract

  • Only 3% of salaried GPs do not know about the model contract.